Interviewed in the latest installment of the Shiny New Object Podcast by Automated Creative’s Tom Ollerton is Ben Flintoff, general manager at Baskin-Robbins. Here are five things Ollerton found out as a result of the conversation.
You can (literally) be your own biggest competitor
Flintoff’s Shiny new object is something quite unusual - how you can be even more successful by becoming your own competitor. He explains this anecdotally. Using home delivery platforms like UberEats and Deliveroo had proved very successful for Baskin-Robbins. So the next year, they decided to take this one step further by creating their own ‘virtual store’ that customers could purchase from. It was called Scoops Ahoy - in homage to the ice cream shop in TV show Stranger Things - and everything from the menus to the products played off the show’s creative themes. While Baskin-Robbins was the product sold, there was no other indication of the brand to the customers ordering online. It was a huge success and while it took some custom away from Baskin-Robbins’ other delivery sales, the net gain was significant. It also gave the team a unique opportunity to flex their creative wings on a concept that was totally different to what they were used to. A win-win.
Marketers should embrace their mad scientist streak
Interestingly, the Scoops Ahoy idea was brought to Flintoff by the team’s marketing manager - and he readily admits that at first, he thought the whole idea was madness. Flintoff reckons marketers have more sway in companies that they give themselves credit for and that they should put their creativity - or, as he describes it, that “mad scientist streak” - to good use. Without this particular person, this successful activation would never have happened. Flintoff’s advice is for marketers is to challenge their chief executive, their board, their general manager. Turn those flashing light bulbs into reality.
Mentors come and go - mentorship is forever
Flintoff says that the best investment of his time and energy has been in building a network of mentors. Having someone to chat to, to bounce ideas off and learn from has been his most foolproof way of avoiding mistakes. Mentors can change over time depending on your work situation and everyone you form a mentor relationship has something different to add. He currently has two main mentors, one personal and one professional, but also has a big pool of contacts to reach out to if needed. His advice for those seeking a mentor? Ask 10 people you admire. No-one minds being approached - it’s flattering - and one of them will almost certainly say yes.
Perfection may be unachievable, but it’s worth a shot
Flintoff tells me that the best investment of his own money has been a subscription to a (real-life) ‘focus journal’. It allows him to plan his next 90 days, both in work and at home, moving from topline goals down to the nitty-gritty of how to achieve them. He gets some satisfaction from ticking boxes as he works his way through his days, weeks, and months. He admits that of course, sometimes life gets in the way of a perfect journal record and there is the occasional day that’s written off with a line through it. But he points out that while no-one’s perfect, at least trying to achieve targets helps you get closer - you’ll never hit a target you don’t set.
Flintoff’s advice for those looking to get into the industry is quite simple - accept that you don’t know everything. He knows this from first-hand experience - he admits that he had a lack of humility when it came to his knowledge gaps when he first got into working life. His advice would be to look to those with more experience, mirror them while thinking outside the box to find your own launch pad. Always go to new employers with a sense of curiosity, ready to absorb new information. You never know when you’ll need it.